Well, as one door closes another opens. It has been remarkable over the
past 25 years to see how often in the U.K. window manufacturers
re-invent their operations. And this time it is doors.
Well, as one door closes another opens. It has been remarkable over the past 25 years to see how often in the U.K. window manufacturers re-invent their operations. And this time it is doors.
We are all sick-to-death of the paper-mongers, rent-a-gobs and the over-promoted lawyers, teachers and civil servants who seem to make up the political classes these days telling us that we are in dire straights. Even before the banks so spectacularly screwed things up we were in trouble. Nobody needed to refurbish their windows – all done thank you very much. Nice no-maintenance vinyl, going to last 20 years at least. Conservatories are okay but expensive and a bit of a luxury.
But everyone needs a new door.
I have to say that the vinyl guys went a long way to creating the new market. While there are still some old timber doors that could do with replacing (I’ve got one, circa 1930. I hope to replace it soon if only to silence my wife, briefly, while she locates the next deficiency to berate me with.) There are also an awful lot of plastic doors that even the manufacturers admit are pretty nasty. I mean, they did their best and the doors were pretty cheap but taking some outer frame and ‘glazing’ it with a panel made of two moulded vinyl sheets with a sandwich of foam between them – well.
Anyway, the thing now is composite GRP doors. A very nice product and, it seems, selling like hot cakes. The slabs mostly come from Taiwan though there are manufacturers in the U.K. With CNC technology everyone is cut to order giving huge consumer choice.
They are not new of course. Like all good things the idea was there already. But earlier versions, while very good, were not always easy to work with. CNC technology has changed all of that and a good source of supply from Taiwan together with some dedicated domestic product has seen the whole thing take off. One of the earliest products that I saw, probably 10 years ago now, was made in the U.K., by an Italian. He would never let anyone see the manufacturing process but in his showroom he kept, along with his own doors, a couple of vinyl ones. These he would attack vigorously with a blow torch and a trimming knife to demonstrate how vulnerable they were. Having pretty well destroyed the vinyl product he meted out the same treatment to one of his own doors. This would be largely unaffected by the assault and any minor damage was then removed with a sheet of glass paper. Very spectacular and sadly these days the health and safety mob would have put an end to him in a heartbeat.
The other hot number at the moment is the folding sliding door. Suddenly everybody wants one. They are appearing as restaurant fronts, very continental, open up your premises to the sidewalk and put tables outside as well. On the domestic front they make a nice alternative to sliding patio doors and French doors which have had their own vogue for the past few years.
So, it is to be hoped, here we go again. A new direction for the U.K., window industry. And, actually, while we wait for the politicians to look up from fiddling their expenses, (big issue over here right now) and tell us that the recession is over and it is okay to get on and do business again, the industry doesn’t seem to be doing too badly.
It is all so very political right now. We have had creeping centralisation under the present government. Whether new or old, Labour is a socialist party and it seems to me its increasingly restrictive and unnecessary legislation has sucked the life-blood out of British industry. Now everyone seems to waiting to be told what to do next. Unless, of course, you are in financial services, in which case all bets are off, or, as it turned out, on, and then look at what happened.
* John Roper is the editor for The Installer, The Fabricator, The Conservatory Installer and Glass Works magazine published in the U.K.
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